Thursday, October 5, 2017

Trusting Yourself In The Wilderness

I can't imagine anything more important in the wilderness than self-trust.

 In these 31 Days of October I am unpacking my learning from the book, Braving The Wilderness, by Brené Brown. She has been a favorite author for years. In this new publication she manages to build a sidewalk and curb in the wilderness where we can bravely tread.

On the quest for true belonging, which I wrote about in previous posts, I eventually endeavored into the wild unknown. A reasonable amount of self-trust was essential. Let me share a story of high adventure from several decades past. 
Homeschooling started to peak my interest when my fourth child struggled in first grade. My gut told me he needed more time at home, but I was scared to check out of public school. 

When I looked at Brené Brown's Braving Skills I recognized that I traveled this path to negotiate the wilderness of schooling at home. 

First came dividing up the boundaries of where education could happen, who was responsible to educate my child, and convincing my son of his part. 
When I sat across the desk from the superintendent with my son next to me, explaining why I believed I was competent to teach him, I knew I was making a serious decision. I was taking full responsibility for his early childhood learning and I was doing it legally, leaving the well traveled road. 

The next skill was becoming reliable. I needed to follow-through on all the lofty plans that I made and show up every morning with a plan.

The burden of accountability was not easy. I felt mostly accountable to him because I chose for him to enter this adventure. And legally, I was still accountable to the state to prove from time to time that he was on grade level.

The vault, where I kept my stories of homeschooling, needed to be guarded. Raising children is a sensitive issue. Parents do comparisons that bring grief more often than they should. I quickly learned which family member and friend wanted to hear about my schooling at home. Some experiences I wisely left in the vault. 

My children checked my integrity. If I exaggerated our success they pointed that out. If I was late to come through with my end of the agreements, they complained. When I reached them in a meaningful way I was rewarded by the delight in their eyes.

My relationship with the public school did not die. That was important to me. I did not want my children thinking that public education was inferior to want I wanted to do. So, I went once a week to do music in a first grade classroom. The teacher was non-judgemental about my choice so I could show up with my son without feeling awkward. I had three other children enrolled in school successfully. Staying non-judgmental of others kept me happier.

Lastly, I learned to be generous towards myself. I couldn't create the perfect experience and I knew that my children had limitations because of my choice. But always I weighed that against the limitations of every educational modality. I did love them with my whole heart and soul. No one could do that better than I.

These braving skills could assist us all as we travel into the wilderness, whether you are struggling at work, or at home, or in your community. 

Click here to go back to my table of contents to see the other posts.


  1. What a brave choice, and what a lucky son to have such a fierce mama bear! I have never used the word brave to describe myself, but I am finding myself becoming more brave as I get older. You are correct about the self-trust. Once I fully accepted myself, as Gretchen Rubin likes to say, "Be Gretchen," I began trusting my instincts more. Knowing who you are, and who you belong to can help you to be more true to yourself.

    1. You summarized that very well. Thank-you for your comment.

  2. Learning to trust our instincts is so important- I love the lessons you share here!

    1. Thank-you, Lesley. We are off and running aren't we.


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